Make it a great day or not; the choice is yours to make. Is it your choice? Did you choose for the guy in the pickup truck five cars ahead of you to have a flat tire blocking traffic? How about the lady at the drive-up who dropped your card while trying to pick up a quick coffee? Those were not the choices you made this morning to cause you to be running behind now.
When I hear the words in the paragraph, I am reminded of a book I have read to my child, grandchildren, and students called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.
Alexander is introduced to us as a kid with an unruly crop of hair who gets out of bed to face a day that seems to grow increasingly worse with each passing minute. On the first page, Alexander wakes up to find his hair full of gum, trips on his skateboard, and then drops a sweater in a sink full of water. As the pages unfold, so does the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!
I started with a phrase I have used often in each day of my professional career. We are at times not in control of all of the actions which interfere with our day, but we are still in control of the choices we make in how we respond. In the case of a flat tire, our response can be to help out by assisting with changing the tire, calling for help, and reassuring others involved. When the card is dropped at the drive-up, let the individual know it is okay. Hopefully, she will get a coffee break soon, pay for the coffee behind you, and spread the message we all get rushed at times.
I received a message one day on my LinkedIn account from Marshall Goldsmith. He noticed we had something in common and thought I would like his new book, The Earned Life. I told him I would read it and provide a review. I am not finished, but I have found it intriguing. “We are living an earned life when the choices, risks, and effort we make in each moment align with an overarching purpose in our lives, regardless of the eventual outcome.”-The Earned Life, Marshall Goldsmith. He identifies four attributes that are essential factors for success: Motivation, Ability, Understanding, and Confidence. Each one of these attributes is important for your toolbox, and the absence of one can dramatically increase your probability of failure.
Goldsmith takes his inspiration from Buddhism. He offers guidance and examples and supports practices to promote habits to help move from what we want to achieve to what we do.
I plan to dig deeper into The Earned Life. The choice is a part of my philosophy of Education as we work to support feeling good and safe while building skills needed for a successful life journey. Goldsmith also talks about regret, which I have written about as well. Working together to achieve, live our purpose, and understand our who, what, how, and why, the strategies begin to connect as habits form.
Choice begins the process. We think about our potential, purpose, and passion. In our lives, we do not want to have regret; we want to take risks and time for things in life we love and enjoy. In a blink of an eye, life can pass by. One of the things in The Earned Life I have found to be powerful for me is this: “Before you can effectively earn the next phase of your life, you have to disengage from the old phase your claim to have left behind. You not only have to let go of past achievements (you are not the person who earned those achievements), but you also have to relinquish your old identity and way of doing things. It’s okay to learn from our past, but I don’t recommend going back to visit every day.”-Marshall Goldsmith.
Starting today to The Earned Life:
- Purpose: The purpose of who we want to become, what we want to do, and the why. A clearly expressed purpose connected with all is elevated and exciting.
- Presence: Be there physically, mentally, and emotionally for those you love. Missing in action is not going to help us at all.
- Community: Working together in a collaborative approach impacts more individuals than working alone.
- Impermanence: Knowing that our time is temporary on this earth, understanding we face illness and death as our final moment, we need to find a purpose in each moment.
- Results: We are often looking for the numbers to show us if we have achieved a goal. Education is always looking for results for growth. However, when the reports are provided, the focus is not on the growth but on below or exceeds. The Earned Life looks at the consistency of being actively involved with total effort with the best attempts to “earn” life.